OT: Survived A Trip To Korea

Submitted by CRex on September 20th, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Since we're doing a downer Monday i'll jump in. I pulled a short trip to Korea this weekend, just 96 hours (with 26 of those being flight time, ugh) and aside from having to watch the UMass I have to report I no longer have a Korean girlfriend.


Okay, I was going to be a dick about this and write the entire post like it was a shitty trip, we had a massive fight and broke up. Upon further review my editor has judged that a "dick move" and ordered changes. I no longer have a Korean girlfriend because I now have a Korean fiancee. No wedding date yet. If you'd rather I hadn't put this spoiler here, just recall that feeling if you dread you had with 2 minutes left in the 2nd quarter of the UMass game and read the post in that mind frame.

First Off, Product Endorsement: Brian has his Spirit Airlines jihad. I'd like to toss our an endorsement for Air Nippon Airlines. ANA has a commitment to providing excellent customer service and a pleasant travel environment and such. All airlines have this, or so they claim, I'm sure you've heard it before in those little canned announcements. "Delta Airlines has a commitment to excellent customer service, which is why your bags are headed for Texas and you're headed for Minnesota."

ANA though follows through on its corporate mission statement by recruiting young Japanese girls and dressing in uniforms that are also sold in Japanese sex shops. Political incorrect, but you appreciate the simpler things in life when you're stuck in a pressurized aluminum can for a 13 hour flight.

Have you been orbiting Seoul-Incheon airport for the past 45 minutes in a holding pattern? Yes. Do you care? No, because you have aisle seat. Are you secretly hoping that the plane crashes, you, your girlfriend and the stewardess (and no one else) all wash up on a remote tropical island and by the time the rescue teams find you you're leading a weird little island tribe called the the Gulo Gulo People* (Latin for Wolverine)? Hell Yes! I've spent the flight actively suggesting to Angry Michigan Hating God that smiting the #3 engine would be the same as smiting a defensive back. (This is not to say I wanted everyone else on the plane to die. I just wanted them on a separate life raft and drifting in the opposite direction, they can be promptly rescued.) 

*Official manifest destiny of the Gulo Gulo people: 1. Integrate with local Polynesian tribe one island over. 2. Create recruiting pipeline of Polynesian defensive backs and linemen for Michigan. 3. Jim Tressel, volcano, the gods demand a sacrifice, enough said.

ANA is best summed by this photo:

A toy stewardess doll with the anime eyes posed in front of ANA's PokeJet. Yes they have a jet painted with Pokemon animals and of course Stewardess dolls. If you're not cruising at 10,000 feet in a Pokemon Jet and sipping "Rum, Coke and Pocky Sticks" (a drink I ordered on the flight, it's good the pocky sticks turn it in a "rum and cherry coke" or "rum and strawberry coke" type of thing), you might as well be traveling by cattle barge.

Now then, onwards:

So we almost ended up missing the UMass Game. A noon kickoff in Ann Arbor means a 1 AM Kickoff in Korea. This means at about 11:45 PM we're frantically running through a Seoul subway station in an attempt to make the first in a series of trains. Also try reading this subway map after spending the past few hours drinking soju at a night club. The game itself is a high tech production that involves lying on the floor of my fiancee's parents apartment and swearing quietly at the BTN streaming setup. I'm distracted because the little sister keeps a lop eared bunny as a pet. It's litter trained and has free run of the place and appears to think my laptop's charger is edible. In the end the bunny opts to chewing on my toes after I shoo it away from the charger for the fifth time (I guess I really do look like a giant carrot top, the bunnies have spoken.).

By the second quarter we are alternating between raiding her father's liquor supply and domestic violence. Every time UMass gashes us for yet another run or bootleg one of us has to grab the other and cover their mouth lest they swear and wake up the rest of the family. Thus my commentary on the game is along the lines of mpphhffffuckingdefensempphhhhhfuckfuckfuckfuck. There is a lot of putting your loved one in a headlock or grabbing a hand before they punch the floor in frustration going around. At this point the bunny retreats in the little utility room where it hides behind its litter box for the remainder of the game.

A whole series of celebratory "Fuck Yes" and "Suck It UMass" type things emerge from our mouths when Stonum visits the endzone for a second time in the 2nd. I'm pretty sure we woke up the parents with that one, but they didn't emerge. The Little Sister though and she neglected to put on much in the way of clothing, just a t-shirt and not much else. Leading to the conversation of:

Her: Hey keep it down, what are you even doing?

Me: Staring intently at the wall over on the opposite side of the room. Can you go back to your room and close the room before the commercial break ends? I'd really like to be able to look in the direction of my laptop again.

The closest I ever came to death was on Friday night. Friday night was originally supposed to be girls night. My fiancee's older sister works in the pop industry for a lack of a better term. She's a model / backup dancer type of person. Nothing big, but she has steady work. So my fiancee, her older sister and a number of other models/backup dancers were going to go out for a girls night. The other girls though wanted to meet the American Ginger and badger him with questions about America so I ended up getting dragged along for the dinner part. I end up sitting on the subway on Friday night surrounded by nine models who are hanging on my every word when I tell them about Ann Arbor. If jealous looks from Korean males could kill, I'd be a dead man. I ended up getting pulled along to a variety of clubs with them and having to dance with them all. Life is a bitch sometimes.

As for the proposal (guys go ahead and hit the fast forward button here). We went out to a park where my fiancee used to walk and think when she was younger. We walked along for awhile, just holding hands as she reminisced about things. Then when reached the duck pond I excused myself to buy some pellets to feed the ducks and when I returned I had a little plastic cup of pellets with the ring sitting on top of the pellets. I managed to get all choked up and flub up the speech I'd been working on, but in the end it worked out. Her family seems to approve of it. If for no other reason than "Our daughter is living with her fiancee" sounds better than "living with her boyfriend." Her father gave it his blessing when I asked him and so far no special operations teams have taken me out.

Other notes:

I tried dog soup. It's actually not bad and the waitress assured me that no cute dogs were harmed. The cute ones are kept as pets, only the ugly ones are turned into soup.

If you get a chance, pick up "Nothing To Envy" by Barbara Demick. The Grad Library has it and it comes out in paperback before the end of the mouth. The book is a series of stories from North Korean defectors. Some parts are funny (like the troops defecting over nail clippers) and some simply make you terminally depressed for a week. The book is well written and worth a read.

When I post in various threads people ask me what happened to these stories. It seems a few people on MGoBlog actually managed to figure out who my now fiancee was (they work with her) and brought some of the threads up. She was somewhat disturbed by the fact people were tracing forum postings back to her and vetoed all future posts. She's opted to loosen the restrictions since she's currently in a good mood. On this vein, yes she is teaching this term and if your Korean GSI just showed in class sporting a large rock today, keep your mouth shut. I used to act up in her class and she has a hell of a fastball when it comes to chucking erasers. That was actually what made me interested in her, when she caught my playing Counterstrike on my laptop and brained me with an eraser. I was three rows back and she got me right between the eyes.



September 20th, 2010 at 4:30 PM ^

I'm glad mgoblog readers are creepy, making this tangential to the blog,so this off topic post doesn't have to be deleted.  I'd hate to have had to miss this.


oriental andrew

September 20th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

I was in Korea earlier this year for a business trip.  62 hours on the ground from landing to departure.  Did you lay over in Narita?  Next time, try to get a seat on the left side of the plane from ICN to NRT - fantastic view of Mt Fuji.


Never had dog soup, but did have braised dog meat.  Not bad.  This was, of course, about 18 years ago when the practice was less unacceptable (or at least publicized).

I've had "Nothing to Envy" on hold at my local library for 2 months now.  Jerk that had it before me lost it and they won't order a new copy until the idiot pays up.  

Great story.  I knew someone who went from LA to Korea to be a pop star, succeeded, and now lives in Atlanta.  I also have a childhood friend who starred as the "Korean girl from America" in a few dramas.  She also won the Miss Korean-American pageant back in the early 90's.  Pop culture in Korea is definitely a weird thing.  


September 20th, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

It's worth the wait for "Nothing to Envy".  I just ended up buying it.  I got a copy from the Grad Library and figured it was the kind of book I'd read multiple times so I just dropped the money on it.  

Dog meat is a lot more on the dive bar level I'm told now.  It's like going out to Jug for PBR night, only with slightly more social stigma these days.  I'm just going to be sad the day live squid consumption is verboten.  That is one tasty little tentacle creature.  


September 20th, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

I honestly have no clue.  We just watched it on the laptop (the BTN will stream overseas for a fee).  I'd imagine one of our local Korean residents can answer or if you're over there start checking around the American military bases where they have some American style sports bars.  Football isn't really big over there so I'd imagine you'd need to find the white people or hope the Korean alumni club books a place: http://alumni.umich.edu/get-active/clubs-and-affiliates/international-c…


September 20th, 2010 at 5:27 PM ^

Yeah, up near the military base.  There should be bars up there showing the games, but you may have to fight someone to change it to M.  Limited # of TVs I'm sure

It's not a bad place to be even if you don't get to watch the game

AFKN (Armed Forces Korea Network) as well - is that still up and running?  That comes through as a local station and it's possible they show some sports


September 20th, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

Itaewon is definitely a good bet. As I think about it Yongsan-gu also might be worth checking out.  Yongsan-guy has a bit less of a red light vibe than Itaewon.  Now if you want a hooker Itaewon is the place to go from what I'm told.  

I think the base by Yongsan-gu is closing down or closed down, so area might be closing down.  


September 20th, 2010 at 9:06 PM ^

Thanks for making me sound like a perv there, CRex.  smiley face.  Genuinely, I didn't run into any of that up there, but it is a place where Americans/Internationals hang out.  Or at least it used be.  Therefore also a place where Korean girls who like Americans/ Internationals would hang out.  Also though, a little bit of familiarity and home in strange, very different, but beautiful country

Plus, Korean chicks +1


September 20th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

"ANA though follows through on its corporate mission statement by recruiting young Japanese girls and dressing in uniforms that are also sold in Japanese sex shops."

Egad -- contrast that with the grouchy hags you often get on U.S. domestic flights (the prime ones, anyway) and you'll be tempted to conclude that unions have ruined our country.  (I don't necessarily believe that, but I think you'll get the point.)

oriental andrew

September 20th, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

Asian airlines, in general, tend to have more strict age and physical standards.  Singapore Airlines is well known for having flight attendants who are easy on the eyes.  Contrast that with the US legacy airlines who rate more on seniority due to collective bargaining agreements.  This is how you get 20+ year veterans on the most desirable routes (eg, mainland to HNL).  Some, to be fair, are fantastic, but others leave much to be desired.  Labor relations in the airline industry (FA's, pilots, mechanics) are EXTREMELY contentious.  Many of the frontline airline personnel also know they will be protected by their labor agreements and union reps in the case of minor issues (being surly to passengers, tardiness, serially sick, etc).  


September 20th, 2010 at 5:05 PM ^

Singapore Airlines also seems to pump its stewardess full of perky drugs as well.  Those girls are insanely perky after long flights. When we hit the ground in Hong Kong once the younger ones were still giggling, acting cute and bouncing around like they'd spent the last 10 hours mainlining speed.  


September 20th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Congrats man.  Also, yeah, I was already sad for you from the "no longer have a Korean girlfriend" line, so I might have had to kill you for a whole post of it.*


*Please note, this poster will not actually commit homicide over the contents of a post, although maiming is still on the table. 


September 20th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

Sure.  Odds are it will be in Korea, so start saving for airfare.  Not sure on any date.  We'll be married in the legal sense (for benefits and citizenship purposes) by Christmas and worry about official receptions and such after that.  


September 20th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I mean, if your fiancee reads this, and still wants to marry you after hearing about you wanting to start a Mormon/LOST way of life with her and the stewardess, you lusting after her scantily clad underage sister, and how much you liked hanging out with her model friends, then she's a keeper. Those must have been some duck pellets.

...and so far no special operations teams have taken me out.



September 20th, 2010 at 6:29 PM ^

YOU think Denard is sexier than she does. I know I do. Michigan Man love for him knows no bounds right now. He puts up 500 yards against Ohio State, I'll ask him to marry me.

(And since there were no pics, I'll take your word on Lil Sis. Nothing to see here, Chris Hanson!)

Modestly more seriously, you'll never regret it. She may, multiple times, but I have faith in you to keep changing her mind. That's what husbands do- keep reminding their wives why they married you in the first place so they forget all the other stuff you do.

Tim Waymen

September 20th, 2010 at 6:26 PM ^

  1. Mazel tov
  2. You're an excellent, very funny writer.  I still have to get around to reading the 4-part series about you meeting your future in-laws.
  3. You got a date with your GSI.  (Apparently some other stuff followed as well.)
  4. I want to hang out with your future sister-in-law's friends.  Deal?


September 20th, 2010 at 6:46 PM ^


I would pay a considerable amount of money for a bowl of dog soup and a bottle or two of soju...

Seoul Garden has 영양탕  on the menu.  That translates loosely to 'nutrition soup', and in Korea 영양탕 = 보신탕, order either and you get dog soup.  The Seoul Garden version obviously didn't have dog meat, I'd guess goat meat.  It was poor compared to dog soup, but not bad if you have a hankering for 육개장.

Again CRex, congratulations!


September 20th, 2010 at 6:58 PM ^

What'd you think of the Seoul airport? I was just there a few weeks ago. Free cultural activities for foreigners!


Also, holy crap people talked to your fiancée about this? I mean, I guess I'm impressed with MGoBlog's reach, but. . .

Wolverine In Exile

September 20th, 2010 at 9:30 PM ^

me and my team of USAF Spec Ops who are formerly of Korean girlfriend relationships are ready to extract you on a moments notice should the rehersal dinner go bad. Just light the flare, activate the homing beacon, and a helicopter will be at your location anywhere on the peninsula in 25 min.


September 21st, 2010 at 9:22 AM ^

Thanks again CRex, and chuka haeyo.

I am in awe of the fact that you managed to get your UMass stream up within an hour. I would have been dead the second I saw the little swirlies on the Seoul map.